The biggest city on the east side of Idaho offers more than just a waterfall, as the name suggests. Once you’ve seen the waterfall, continue across the Snake River to check out the city’s downtown business district — which includes some cool old ghost signs and a few artistic touches.
The Falls and Idaho Falls’ downtown district are a quick hop off of Interstate 15. Take exit 118, then head east on Broadway Street. To see the falls, take a left just before you cross the bridge, and find a parking spot. To visit downtown, cross the bridge.
If you’re arriving off the Interstate, you’ll first cross the Snake River. Stop on the west side for the best view of the falls. You can also walk across the bridge if you’d like.
Idaho Falls’ City Building dates back to 1930.
The Rogers Building came just a few years later. It was completed in 1937 and boasted 100 rooms with baths, starting at $2 dollars a night.
The opposite side of the Rogers Building features a giant painted ghost sign proclaiming the Hotel Rogers to be “One of America’s finer places to eat and sleep.”
At the moment, though, I was more interested in the Bonneville. The tallest building in Idaho Falls was also a hotel, completed in 1927. Nowadays, a fading sign at the top of the building promises Chinese and American Food. I’m pretty sure the hotel and the restaurant have closed…
… and judging by the junk piled up above the entrance to the Bonneville, it looks like this building needs some attention. A 2016 article says about 60 people still live in the Bonneville. An expensive plan is in the works to renovate the building, inside and out, and bring it back to life. Next time I’m in Idaho Falls, I’ll check to see if anything is happening.
Idaho Falls is making a nice attempt at adding some interest to its downtown district. It’s worth taking a stroll down Pugsslane — an alley that’s dedicated to street art.
You’ll find quite a few interesting murals…
… sandwiched in between Idaho Falls’ skyscrapers.
You’ll find Pugsslane on B Street, about halfway between Shoup and Park Avenues. It doesn’t really connect to anything, just other alleys.
The artistic touches spill out from Pugsslane into other areas of the town. This giant skateboard is begging to be included in a selfie.
As I walked around, I found a few other interesting signs to photograph. However, I still needed to finish the drive north to Butte before the end of the day. And as I quickly found out, as soon as you leave Idaho Falls, you leave most signs of civilization behind for quite a while.
Here’s a look at the drive around Idaho Falls…
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… and the complete drive up I-15 through Idaho:
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The Bottom Line
You really should explore a bit further than the falls, when you visit Idaho Falls. The downtown district, just a few blocks away from the Snake River, is filled with interesting old buildings and provides a great place to explore for a few minutes, before continuing on the long drive on I-15.